We carry out salting in anticipation of frost, snow or ice on our precautionary salting network. Special weather forecasts are used to predict road temperatures across the highway network in Somerset. These are used by trained and experienced staff that issue instructions to salt the Precautionary Salting Network as necessary. We aim to salt these roads in advance of ice or frost forming on the road surface.
We are responsible for highway winter service in Somerset except for the M5, A303 and A36.
- Only the busiest roads are salted, most are not - drive safely
- In icy conditions braking distances can increase tenfold
- It takes time for salt to become effective
- Rain can wash salt off roads
- In very low temperatures even salting does not prevent icing
- Extra caution is needed when driving in bad weather
About this service
We have a precautionary salting network, which covers key routes across the county which is available under "Information and Resources".
Our precautionary salting network covers approximately 1412 km, which is about 21% of the road network in Somerset. We operate 23 lorry routes from 6 depots across the county.
In a typical winter we will carry out around 50 actions and use in the order of 7000 tonnes of rock salt.
What is road salting?
Road salting is carried out in order to assist the safe movement of highway users in conditions of snow and ice. Resources are not available to to treat all roads. However, priority networks have been defined, based on traffic flows and strategic significance (see below).
In some parishes salt bins are located at key points to encourage self-help. We provide salt in these locations on the understanding that it is used for highway purposes.
Criteria have been developed to enable the pre-salting network to be defined. This is required to ensure a consistent approach across the County and achieve a reasonable balance between cost and level of service. During 2010 a review of the pre-salting network was carried out using the following criteria:
- Strategic and county routes
- Freight routes
- Links to emergency locations
- Links to adjoining counties
- Links to major settlements
- Links to settlements about 500 feet
- Links to urban/rural schools (major)
When are roads salted?
Daily forecasts with temperature graphs are received to predict road surface temperatures at the weather stations in Somerset. If the air is dry, frost will not form, even though the temperature may be well below freezing point.
For this reason it is important to predict both road temperatures and air moisture content. Experienced staff interpret all the information and issue instructions to salt as necessary. Instructions may vary in different parts of the County.
Normally precautionary salting is carried out during the early evening or early morning. Frost does not normally affect the road surface until the early morning and precautionary salting is intended to prevent this.
If frost follows rain in the early hours or freezing occurs unexpectedly, insufficient time will be available to salt the whole of the priority network before motorists start their morning journeys. Therefore, motorists should not assume the routes are salted and must drive with due caution.
To report a salt bin or bag which needs replenishment please phone the Contact Centre on 0845 345 9155.
How do I use it?
When you contact us please let us have the following information:
- The exact location of the problem
- Your name and address in case we need to contact you
- Tell us whether or not the road is usually salted
What is covered?
What we can do
- Undertake precautionary salting on the pre-salting network when there is a risk of ice or snow
- Clear the routes of snow accumulation in priority order
- Keep the public informed through the media
What we can't do
- Undertake work on the motorway or trunk roads, as these are the responsibility of the Highways Agency
- Salt all highways
- Keep roads free of ice and snow all of the time
What you can do
- Prepare your vehicle for winter
- Check the weather forecast and road conditions before travelling
- Allow extra time for your journey
- Give gritters and snow ploughs plenty of room to operate
- Carry a shovel and blanket in your vehicle
Salt/Grit bins - These are sited at locations agreed by the Highway Authority following a request from Parish/Town Councils. They are purchased and maintained by the local councils and replenished by the Highway Authority. Anyone can use the salt in the bins as long as it is for public areas.
Salt bags - These may be placed by the Highway Authority at known trouble spots to assist vehicle or pedestrian movement. The salt will be provided in suitable containers to minimise any environmental damage.
Footways and Cycleways
- Footways and cycleways will not be treated in anticipation of ice but would be cleared at the earliest opportunity if a known dangerous situation exists
- Footways in shopping areas and cycleways will be cleared at the earliest opportunity when manpower becomes available from priority routes.
Please remember when routes are treated there is no guarantee they will always be free of ice.
You should still drive with due care and consideration.
Tips for clearing snow and ice include:
- Start early - it's much easier to clear fresh, loose snow compared to compacted ice that has been compressed by people walking on it.
- Don't use hot water - this will melt the snow, but may replace it with black ice, increasing the risk of injury.
- Make a pathway down the middle of the area to be cleared first, so you have a clear surface to walk on.
- Spread some salt on the area you have cleared to help stop ice forming - table salt or dishwasher salt will work, but avoid spreading on plants or grass as they may be damaged by it.
- Use sand or ash as an alternative to salt.